theskeptic

“Council Tackles Housing Diversity”


A recent article in the Gazette styled “Council Tackles Housing Diversity” seems to raise more questions than it answers.


Although one can understand Councillor Prefontaine’s desire to produce more affordable housing, I am not prepared to hold my breath waiting for that to actually occur.  To effect affordable housing would take fundamental structural changes in the city’s operation.  The high cost of housing in St. Albert is clearly linked to the high rate of property taxation. People in the more modest income brackets look at the tax rate in St. Albert and compare it with other places in the Capital Region and elect to live in areas with a lower taxation rate.

Developers and builders are well aware of this economic fact and hence design and build in St. Albert to cater to persons with more disposable income.  This then produces a plethora of high end housing. This reality has existed and has re-enforced itself in this city for years, and the result is that some of the highest costs for housing in the Capital Region are found in St. Albert.


It seems doubtful as to whether Carol Bergum’s tweaking of lot sizes, Crouse’s motion to ban discussion of back lanes  and alleyways, or Prefontaine’s rather amusingl pose in front of a condo complex will do much to change that economic reality.


What is this whole exercise actually about?   Prefontaine says that “Community here is not about houses, it is about people.” which is like saying “ice cream tastes better if you don’t nuke it in the micro-wave for 5 minutes.”  Osborne says “This can’t just be an economic argument.  I think this is a philosophical conversation about who we are as a community.” Both statements are left-wing code words for income re-distribution.  So it seems that Dick Plain has it right when he says this is all about a cost-shifting exercise.


Since they are unable or unprepared to make the fundamental structural changes that are required to reduce taxes … and since high property tax is a fundamental cause of the high cost of housing, their solution will be to impose a higher incidence of tax on the existing single family dwellings to give the government money for some sort of subsidized housing scheme.


That sort of thinking is circular since it will simply escalate property taxes for most taxpayers even further.  Hence, the problem of producing affordable housing will not actually be solved …. but it will create an regulatory environment which requires even more bureaucrats to administer.  

It seems that instead of the Gazette saying "Council Tackles Housing Diversity" it would have been more apt to say "Council Plays Touch Football with Housing Diversity."
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theskeptic
It seems like I'm whistling into the wind in my attempt to get people to be aware that Prefontaine's whole affordable housing scheme is merely a disguise for more taxes on single family residences.

However, the following would seems to support my opinions in my previous post.

"Research by economists Edward Glaeser of Harvard and Joseph Gyourko of the University of Pennsylvania indicated that "homes are expensive in high-cost areas primarily because of government regulation" that imposes "artificial limits on construction."

If you want to see "artificial limits on construction" ... go back an replay the Landrex Land Use development application in which Crouse attempted to throw a wrench into the whole project.

If you want to see "artificial limits on construction" go back and look at the erratic policy shifts on land use planning of this council and know that such uncertainty results in less construction in St. Albert.   

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Swallow1
I think most of us are well aware of Prefontaine and his ilk crying for the homeless, in a city that values your tax dollar more than it does you, as a person.  When I think of the seniors still living in this city - those ones who helped build this community - struggling to make ends meet, it makes my blood boil.

We have HfH in Akinsdale.  If I understand it correctly HfH uses the money from one project to build another?  How can homeowners there afford the taxes, city utility bills and STILL have enough to pay HfH to continue on with their work?  Are these homeowners subsidized in some manner that the rest of us aren't, or are they pre-tested to find out how much water they use?    
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theskeptic
Swallow:  thanks for your comment.  The point I was trying to make ... albeit not very articulately I'm afraid .... if that NOW is the time to develop public opposition to the Prefontaine/Osborne's subsidization plan.

Since they are not prepared to attack the root causes of high cost housing ... and since we know their solution is for taxpayers to subsidize another one of their schemes ... the time to start opposing that is now ... not when they have passed resolutions or bylaws ... and built up more bureaucracy to implement their plans.  At that point it's too late as we are faced with a fait accompli.

If they want to solve the high cost housing problem they could:

1.  take steps to reduce taxes which means cut back on their out of control bureaucracy 

2.  develop a consistent land use planning policy so that the supply of lots for housing increases

We both know ... neither Prefontaine or Osborne (or any of the other fickle five) will support those kind of policies.
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Swallow1
@theskeptic -
I read a story in The Gazette entitled "Wanted: a better deal for young Canadians St. Albert woman hopes to raise awareness about Generation Squeeze campaign" Wednesday, Jan 14, 2015 06:00 am

In the story, one of the issues Ms Morrison identified was "Escalated housing prices,..."

I truly believe that if the Dynamic Duo - Prefontaine/Osborne were really serious about our housing situation, they'd be looking at something like a trailer park.  I think all cities have them.  

The only thing that might hinder such a bold move in this city is if they tried to put next to Kingswood.....

 

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OMG
Osborne/Prefontaine will never do anything unless Crouse OKs it!
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theskeptic
@swallow1:
I also read that article in the Gazette and found it quite interesting.  While I do not disagree with your trailer park idea, I think that any politician who is serious about the high cost of housing has to address the fact that land in St. Albert is at a premium price.  The only way to change that fact is by increasing the supply of serviced lots ... and reducing the tax burden on the individual owner.  

None of that is in the cards with this council so Osborne and Prefontaine are simply whistling past the graveyard in a show of bravado.
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Swallow1
@theskeptic:
My biggest bone of contention with respect to the article is that we are no longer able to tell the difference between a "want" and a "need".

Ms Morrison bemoans the need for smaller homes at reduced prices?  My guess is that they're either not looking in the right places, or they're not the ones she and members of her age group are willing to look at.  Last time I checked mls.ca, there were quite a few homes in the $35K to $200K range. 

If they can't afford those, there's a big problem.

As for the Dynamic Duo - Politicians with dumb ideas come and go on a regular basis.  It's only the dumb voters who let them stick around to gum up the works. 
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theskeptic

Swallow1:

While there is no doubt that your post has merit.  I think this comment by you is the central theme relating to this housing issue … “When I think of the seniors still living in this city - those ones who helped build this community - struggling to make ends meet, it makes my blood boil.”


My concern is that politicians like Osborne and Prefontaine  (with the assistance of the Administration) promote this concern with “housing diversity” and since they are not confronted and stopped in their tracks … we end up with a subsidy scheme and an increase in the property taxes.  The seniors are confronted with this tax increase and it becomes more difficult for them to make ends meet.  In the meantime, Osborne and Prefontaine are hailed as heroes of the lower income bracket and the youth.  


All of this occurs because (a) the advice of economist like Dr. Plain is ignored by the Mayor and his sock puppets and (b)  the general public sits back in apathy and allows them to proceed.

 
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Swallow1
@theskeptic - "The only way to change that fact is by increasing the supply of serviced lots ... " 

Oh, but they have figured out the perfect way to increase the supply of serviced lots in this city - it's called "infill".

If we make taxes untenable for seniors, maybe they'll finally give up their land hogging ways.  Just think, two or three homes plus two or three basement suites where one home used to sit. 

Why do you think Crouse and his crony were nearly wetting themselves (from both ends) over the possibility of adding more floors to Rosedale?  How much easier will it be for some council members to sleep at night, knowing that seniors still have the option of living in this city - and solving our housing crisis all at the same time?
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Swallow1
More Affordable Housing for Seniors - and it even hit FB!


    seniors housing in st albert.jpg   
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Murray Lambert
With regards to the magazine article that appeared on yesterday's editorial page featuring our chief magistrate Mayor Cathy Heron no less, I haven't seen such adulation since the passing of Mother Theresa. In reading Heron's wish list for future capital projects etc. one only has to wonder where the necessary resources to provide them would come from? To this I will give three guesses but as the old adage says, "the first two don't count". The whole thing seems eerily familiar, just maybe she should change her name to 'DONALD' while she's at it!
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Joyce
The most frighteing part about the current wish list is the fact the housing market is not too stable at this time. Should the bottom fall out, as happened in the 80's, there will be a loss of tax revenue and an increase in expenses which will add to the burden alread put onto the backs of taxpayers.
Young ones haven't experienced that yet.

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Swallow1
Joyce wrote:
The most frighteing part about the current wish list is the fact the housing market is not too stable at this time. Should the bottom fall out, as happened in the 80's, there will be a loss of tax revenue and an increase in expenses which will add to the burden alread put onto the backs of taxpayers.
Young ones haven't experienced that yet.



Was our Mayor around for the last "crash"?
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Swallow1
OMG!
Just saw yet ANOTHER opportunity for inexpensive housing.


Where are they getting this stuff from?

Well, at least it's prettier.

https://onedrive.live.com/?cid=99557D67645581F7&id=99557D67645581F7%2112180&parId=root&o=OneUp


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